Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnya is personally involved in a number of grave crimes, including assassinations of prominent human rights activists and opposition leaders, says the report presented this week at the European Parliament. According to Ilya Yashin, one of Russia’s most vocal opposition leaders and Deputy-Chairman of the Party of People’s Freedom, who prepared the document Kadyrov represents a threat to both domestic and international security.
Yashin unveiled the report entitled “Threat to National Security” following a conference to commemorate Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician who was assassinated in Moscow in early 2015. The document reveals a stream of alleged crimes, and corrupt schemes of the Chechen President and his inner circle. According to Yashin, routine killings, torture and corruption are widespread there with the connivance of the Republic’s secret services and Vladimir Putin personally.
“I decided to write this report when it became clear that the evidence surrounding the killing of a friend of mine, Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in central Moscow, led back to Chechnya. More importantly, it was also evident that Kadyrov’s inner circle and perhaps he personally were behind the planning of this brutal assassination”, Yashin said.
According to the opposition leader, one of the main threats coming from the Chechen President and his associates is the establishment of the Kadyrov’s personal army, which comprises a few thousands guards and is not subordinated to the federal authorities. For the last decade the economy of this North-Caucasian republic has been pumped up by the federal budget’s money making Chechnya highly dependent on subsidies. However, according to Yashin, the revenues are used for buying high-end weapons and guns.
“All preconditions for the beginning of a new war in Chechnya have been formed. This is, in my opinion, the eventual result of Putin’s policy towards the North Caucasus. At present, there is a substantial threat that in case of a conflict between the federal authorities and Kadyrov, his private military will follow him”, the opposition leader said.
The speculations that the Chechen President spends the federal money aimed at developing region’s infrastructure on buying new armaments have been circulated for a long time among human rights activists. Moreover, it is an open secret that Kadyrov actively recruits experienced officers from the Russian army as well as mercenaries from abroad.
“If there is a military conflict between Russia and Chechnya, it is not important how much time the federal army will need to reach Grozny. The most disturbing thing is how much time Kadyrov’s army will need to occupy the neighboring Ingushetia and Dagestan. I have no doubts that in case of a clash, Kadyrov and his army will easily turn their guns against the Russian soldiers as he did while fighting on the separatists’ side before”, Yashin said.
A few alarming cases, ending in skirmishes between the federal authorities and Kadyrov over the region’s control, have already taken place indeed in Chechnya recently. In April 2015, Kadyrov ordered the local policemen to “shoot to kill” law-enforcement officers from the other regions should they come to conduct special operations on the territory of the republic. The reason for such a statement was an incident with Stavropol policemen, who came to Chechnya without informing the local authorities to arrest a Chechen, who had been put on the federal wanted list.
“I officially state that if [armed people] turn up on our territory without informing us – be they from Moscow or Stavropol – shoot to kill”, Kadyrov ordered Chechen law-enforcement officials.
This statement led to the escalation of the conflict between the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Russia Vladimir Kolokoltsev and the Chechen President, but Putin’s personal interference helped to calm the situation down.
The Chechen president is also notoriously known for his public intimidation of Russian pro-democracy opposition leaders, human rights activists and journalists. Some of them were killed outside Russia, which provoked an international outrage and resulted in tension in diplomatic relations with countries concerned.
“We know that Kadyrov was involved directly or indirectly in a number of crimes, including assassinations within Russia. We are also aware of the murders of some opponents even outside Russia’s borders. One of his key adversaries, Sulim Yamadaev, who fought alongside Russian law-enforcement forces against the “Wahhabists” and had personal conflict with Ramzan, was killed in 2009 in the UAE”, said Yashin.
During the investigation into the death of Yamadaev it was widely reported that he was “killed on the spot by a pistol shot in the back of the head in the presence of his two bodyguards”. Two people were convicted following the conclusion of the murder investigation. Not surprisingly, one of them was Kadyrov’s former horse tender, while the organizer of the assassination was called Adam Delimkhanov, a close associate of Kadyrov.
It is not a secret that today Kadyrov publicly acknowledges the authority of only one person – Vladimir Putin, saying that he is ready to sacrifice his life if the Russian President asks him to do it. However, the complicated history of the relations between Russia and Chechnya shows that the latter will never give up seeking independence from the center. Therefore, the threat to Russia is coming from within.